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Digital Dashboards: Safer Driving Or Just Another Distraction?

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Once only found in luxury cars, digital dashboards are becoming more mainstream.

Shamil Shalwani’s new car comes with several impressive features. His favorite? An app that keeps him up to date with his sports teams.

“When I first saw the feature of the new apps inside the car, I was pretty impressed,” he said.

Shalwani’s new car has a digital dashboard — technology and apps similar to his smart phone without the temptation of reaching for the phone while driving, CBS 2’s Tracee Carrasco reported.

“Before I got this car it was very hard to keep the phone out of my hand,” Shalwani admitted.

Mark Takahashi, automotive editor at Edmunds.com, said digital dashboards are designed to keep the phone out of your hands and your eyes on the road.

“Say you’re in an unfamiliar city and you want dinner reservations or recommendations, or you want to get movie tickets, or you just want to know what’s going on. That’s pretty much all at your fingertips now,” he said.

Even though they may be convenient, Robert Sinclair with AAA, said hands free doesn’t mean risk free.

“The problem with these digital dashboards is the fact that the technology involves your mind, the cognitive aspect of the distraction which can be even worse than the manipulative distraction that comes along with these devices,” he said.

And many drivers agree.

“Same thing as like a phone. If you’re looking at a dashboard, you’re not paying attention to the street,” said Sam Hashem.

“I don’t want to use anything while I’m driving,” another motorist told Carrasco.

AAA is making its case against the digital dashboards, urging Congress and consumers to reconsider them. It said it hopes car manufacturers will take voluntary steps to make drivers safer, without making it necessary to introduce new laws and regulations.

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